Parents have been asking me regularly about fiber and how much their child should get and why. Let me flush out the information you need to know on this important nutrition topic.

Foods containing fiber have many benefits, beginning with the fact that they tend to contain lots of nutrients and vitamins. These foods also tend to fill you up with usually no added calories, which can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight. In addition, fiber is needed to move food through the digestive system and helps relieve constipation. Some studies also suggest fiber in the diet may even help in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.

So where do you get fiber? It is found in lots of foods that children normally enjoy, including fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas and prunes. Vegetables and grains containing fiber include green peas, dried beans and lentils, and whole grain breads and cereals. A packaged food will contain the amount of fiber on its food label with a good fiber source food having at least 2.5-to-5 grams of fiber per serving.

So how much fiber should your child get? Toddlers need 19 grams of fiber daily, children 4-8 years about 25 grams, and older children and teens need more than that. If your children are getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with some fiber-rich grains in their bread products, they are in good shape.

Your child’s health care professional or a nutritionist can give you more information to ensure you are serving foods your children enjoy eating that are also rich in fiber and meeting their daily intake needs.

Hopefully with tips like this, everything will come out fine in the end when it comes to knowing more about how to get adequate amounts of fiber into your child or teen’s diet.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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